Pot’s positive effects on our endocannabinoid system and its regulation of so many important functions makes many regular consumers more than happy enjoy daily their daily hits. But is smoking weed every day something that should be avoided? After all, smoking anything regularly (even bud) has to have its share of negative effects. But it has also been shown that pot smokers endure fewer complications that tobacco smokers, so is daily smoking really something to be concerned about?
Surprising to no one, regulatory drug agencies believe that daily weed smoking can indeed be harmful. Lung-related problems are naturally the biggest concern among smokers and researchers.
What does prolonged exposure to cannabis do to a person?
A study by a team of researchers from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, published in 2016, found that people who smoked marijuana on a daily basis for a long period of time had poorer verbal memory in their middle age, than others.
This occured when controlling for a number of other factors, such as age, education, other substance use and mental health issues.
The team found that the relationship between marijuana use and memory problems was fairly direct – that the more pot people smoked, the worse they performed in memory tests. Although the difference wasn’t stark over five years – the more years for which you smoke daily the more you compound the issue. However, few people reach these levels of exposure – of the 3,385 study subjects, only 311 had more than five marijuana years’ (if you smoke pot every day for a year) worth of exposure.
The upshot? Other cognitive abilities didn’t seem to be significantly affected by heavy cannabis use, such as ability to focus and problem solving speed.
Other studies, including one conducted by the American Thoracic Society’s medical journal, concluded that,
Lifetime marijuana use is not associated with adverse changes in spirometric (exhalation strength) measure of lung health
Their data suggests it’s unlikely that prolonged cannabis use would cause respiratory diseases in the same manner as tobacco and a growing number of researchers are reaching the same conclusion. In spite of the U.S. government’s public stance on the harmful nature of marijuana smoking, a government released report in 2011 concluded that regular marijuana smoking (equivalent to a joint a day) did not impair lung function. According to the New York Times, The researchers followed more than 5,000 people over two decades and found that regularly smoking marijuana did not impair performance on a lung function test.
In fact, cannabis users ‘performed slightly better on the lung function test.’
It can be said that daily use, if not medicinal can lead to a cannabis dependency. But is it harmful? Well that largely depends upon how it affects specific people and how many negative benefits are derived from its use on a case-by-case basis.
Those who have developed a psychological dependence may be using it as a crutch, rather than dealing with certain underlying conditions. In this case, cannabis use can delay the proper treatment of such conditions.
If one is experiencing bad physical reactions, like an elevated heart rate that may cause anxiety, or increased respiratory infections and still continues to use, this is also an indicator of an unhealthy relationship with cannabis that should be addressed.
Given cannabis’ federal Schedule I classification, data regarding the effects of daily use is lacking. However, cannabis advocates might be prone to disagree with Dr. Garbely’s assessments. Some of the world’s top performing athletes, entrepreneurs, scholars, artists and other professionals profess to either smoking daily, or having smoked daily in the past.
Of course, it’s difficult to know whether these are exceptions to the rule and if there happen to be legions of talented people in the world whose weed habit has stunted their potential in some way so, it’s anyone’s guess.